Dr. Laura Stachel, Associate Director of West African Emergency Obstetric Research for the Bixby Center, is the Co-Founder and Medical Director of WE CARE Solar. On July 15, 2012, WE CARE Solar and partner AMREF were awarded a Transition to Scale grant, as well as the Peer Choice award that was selected by the innovators themselves, in the Gates Grand Challenge on Saving Lives at Birth.
In Uganda, each year an estimated 6,000 women and 35,000 infants die from childbirth related complications. Access to skilled health care and appropriate technologies can save many lives. But in many countries, the difference between life and death for is dependent upon reliable light and electricity. Without that, health workers cannot provide life-saving care. Midwives struggle to deliver babies by candlelight, life-saving procedures are attempted by flashlight, and patients suffer delays in care or are turned away from health centers unable to function in darkness. Their solution is simple. The new and innovative WE CARE Solar Suitcase is a simple, user-friendly technology that provides a sustainable source of power, allowing health workers to provide life-saving interventions 24 hours a day. The Solar Suitcase makes solar-power accessible, affordable, and useful in developing rural communities. This program ensures Solar Suitcases for 200 health centers and additionally provides an innovative package of interventions to improve service delivery, including a fetal Doppler to detect fetal well-being, phone charging to enhance patient referrals, and a computer to for data entry in the electronic Health Management Information system. By building on the Solar Suitcase to provide this innovative package of interventions, they will meet all three aspects of the challenge: a technological innovation to improve the capacity of health centers enabling better service delivery, ultimately leading to more demand, saving the lives of mothers and children at birth.
More details can be found here.